by Cabin Wisdom
Thirty days, 60 days, 90 days, six months, nine months, then on through the years. Go to any chip meeting and you will witness the time-honored tradition of praising in public those who have gained anniversaries of sobriety.
The 24-hour chip is my favorite as a constant reminder this is a 24-hour program. Tomorrow is promised to no one. A chip in my pocket jingles along with the coinage, keeping me mindful time is not a tool. Takes 31 years to get 31 years. Takes 31 seconds to become a newcomer.
Early sobriety days saw me hustling to the 7 a.m. Cabin meeting. By the early morning glow of the Cabin porchlight, with cigarette embers burning, members stood outside to hail me with boisterous, “Did you drink last night?” So proud to announce I had not. Gaining that 30-day chip was like receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. After years of alcoholic living, came this one small chip. The first sense of accomplishment in years.
At the Cabin we give out chips. When members round the corner to an anniversary, we celebrate with chips, lots of clapping, and delight on our faces. The Big Book describes how “time spent with newcomers as well as each other is the highlight of our day.” So true. A gift to the heart and soul is the inner, glowing pleasure on a member’s face as he passes ‘round his 60-day coin. Yesterday a fellow with a gleaming red 30-day chip, crossed the room to hold it aloft to his new-found friends. “Look what they give us here!” he exclaimed.
Chips have saved my life. Celebrating a one year anniversary at the Carnelian Room in San Francisco–one of the more chichi restaurants in The City, I placed my new gold one-year anniversary chip on the table and grandly ordered dessert. I love desserts that are on fire, a la flambé. Forgot the fact flambé also requires booze with a high alcohol content. The waiter knew. He saw the chip on the table and said, “I’d hate to see you go out and become a newcomer on one of these deserts! Especially on your first-year anniversary.” Turned out, the waiter was a friend of Bill W. Saved my life and my pocketbook. Non Flammable vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce proved the best bet after all.
During that same first year, I made the mistake of traveling through Spain with my mother. The one person who could make me think of a drink while she downed quarts of scotch and brandy. In Malaga at that time, I could not locate a meeting of Alcohólicos Anónimos. When I asked if such a program was available, the hotel management thought I was drunk and required hospitalization. I was a dry drunk with nowhere to go and an alcoholic mother in tow. What to do? Eventually, I found what appeared to be a meeting. The dead giveaway was the people striding with that A.A. stride of folks needing a meeting. “Get out of my way, while I get spiritual,” they seem to say. Tip: Knowing this helps us find meetings. Look for the A.A. stride.
That A.A. stride was on a woman heading up an alleyway. While asking for her help, I pulled the one-year chip from my pocket. The gold lustered. She was in awe. Motioning me to follow her, the lady steered me toward what became daily Spanish meetings. Thank God! Before heading back to the States, I gave her my coin.
Thanks to our chips, an ancillary benefit is learning your Roman Numerals. My sponsor’s chip reads: XLVII.
Some folks don’t go to chip meetings, feeling they are somehow vain or boastful. Here’s to share: chips are not about you. They help those around you, particularly newcomers. Watching you receive your chip, they can say to themselves, “If that son-of-a-buck can make this program, so can I! There’s a chance for me too.” You provide hope “when no one else can.”
Page 153 of the Big Book describes our text as a chip of a book launched on the world tide of alcoholism. We also provide chips off the old block/book. There’s a chip for your pocket, to lay on your altar, or to receive from the Cabin, with a host of new friends cheering you on your Road of Happy Destiny.